Friday, 31 October 2014

I'm a Weaver and I Went to a Photography Seminar!

Last weekend, Pat and I drove down to Burnaby for the annual seminar hosted by the Abbotsford Photo Arts Club. The speaker for the day was Frans Lanting from California. To call this incredible man a "nature photographer" is only part of what he shares with the world. Frans Lanting has a personal mission to present the environment vividly to his viewers, and to make us see differently, think differently and act differently about our world.

So what's in a photography seminar for a weaver? Lots.

With a husband who is a keen and very good photographer (and photography teacher), I'm becoming a little indoctrinated in the art of photography and seen the many connections with weaving. Seeing, composing, finishing - photographers and weavers proceed through these and other related steps. Photographers may see an image before them whereas weavers first can only see the cloth in their mind. But photographers and weavers both compose, produce and finish carefully, involving many technical steps along the way.

As well as those obvious (to me) overlaps, even some of the photographic discussions and critiques start my mind racing. One photographer's dud photo could be this weaver's major inspiration.

Some of Frans Lanting's key points that I could really relate to included:
  1. Art is starting with nothing and making something, or it is starting with too much and having to remove and reduce.
    One of my key faults in cloth design is trying to do too much. I would take a complex weave structure, add a complex colour regime, flip the colour sequence around across the width - too much.
    Simplify, and the beauty will stand out.
  2. Pause, think about what interests you, analyze a bit, then compose.
    This is not only relevant to photographers, but true for me as a weaver. I have some ideas still incubating for over a year. Other ideas need far less time or can even be acted on quite spontaneously.
  3. Look for your favourite colour combinations.
    I have mine, and I use them as often as possible in my work. What gets me is how versatile and essential some apparently unexciting colours may be - a Prussian blue, my Tuscan gold standby, a favourite verdant green that springs with life. Yarn dyelots may vary though, and perfect consistency from one yarn order to the next can never be guaranteed.
  4. Dig down into one topic or location rather than traveling all over and trying to photograph everything.
    I dig down into weaving blankets :-) and my colours are earthy, natural combinations or I go a bit wild now and then, such as in my Energy series.
Frans Lanting is a very skilled and engaging speaker, and a really outstanding individual. Pat and I knew he'd done his seminar many times before, but it felt new to us as audience members and not recycled from past presentations. Check out Frans' website if you want some major inspiration.

Monday, 27 October 2014

Another Energy Blanket (SH089)

I began my Energy series recently with a colourful blanket in advancing twill. It was the start of an ongoing series of bold, bright blankets - the colours and weave structure have so much life and energy.

The latest batch of Shetland wool blankets included another member of the Energy series.

SH089 | 100% wool | 175 cm x 127 cm (69" x 50") | $250

This is another blanket headed to the Station House Gallery show in November. It will be part of the show aimed at chasing winter away.

Thursday, 23 October 2014

Family Blanket

I usually aim for a finished length of six feet for my wool and cotton blankets, which is 183 cm. Some blankets are a bit less because of the pattern sequence - or my miscalculation of the woven length before shrinkage during washing. And some blankets are longer, for the same reasons.

When I weave Shetland wool blankets, I plan on seven blankets for a project. This works out to 18.5 turns of the back beam when warping. (My counting is generally more reliable than the yarn meter on the tension box; if the yarn slips off I'm lost, so I now just count aloud.)

For the 15th batch of Shetland wool blankets, I added an extra half metre and knew it would be plenty to weave one extra-long blanket at the end of the warp. Correct - this one is 2.8 m long, which is over 9 feet.
SH092 | 100% wool | 280 cm x 127 cm (110" x 50") | $325
This blanket is headed to the Station House Gallery next month for my show with potter Joan Beck entitled "To Drive the Cold Winter Away." It will help a family do just that!

Monday, 20 October 2014

15th Batch of Shetland Wool Blankets

Blog readers and blanket owners have probably noticed by now that wool blankets are my forte.  My 15th set of Shetland wool blankets was super fun and enjoyable to make. After they were woven, I loved having all the fringing, washing, pressing, labeling, measuring and photographing to do. And now the final step - blogging.

Here they are with a few notes regarding their availability. I finished weaving the 16th batch yesterday and have all the fringing and subsequent finishing stages happily ahead of me again.

SH086 | 100% wool | 175 cm x 128 cm (69" x 50.5") | $250

SH087 | 100% wool | On hold

SH088 | 100% wool | Sold

SH089 | 100% wool | Energy series | 175 cm x 128 cm (69" x 50") | $250

SH090 | 100% wool | Autumn Storm series | Sold

SH091 | 100% wool | 190 cm x 128 cm (77" x 50.5") | $250 | Available in Ottawa

SH092 | 100% wool | Family Blanket | 280 cm x 127 cm (110" x 50") | $325

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Shetland Wool Blankets on the Line

Three more Shetland wool blankets dried on the line after handwashing and before pressing, labeling, measuring and photographing. The interwoven blocks and lines from the turned twill weave structure, added to all the colour changes, make some very interesting combinations.

The left and centre blankets are on their way to Ottawa, and the one on the right is in my studio. I'll blog the whole batch with more information when all are ready to show.

Sunday, 12 October 2014


Love ... family, friends, memories
Peace ... living it and wishing it for everyone
Nature ... its beauty and resilience
Fall colours ....

Happy Thanksgiving!

Sunday, 5 October 2014


After my recent post on knots, I received this quotation that's probably meant to address (and quell) my paranoia with flaws in my weaving:
“Some beautiful things are more dazzling when they are still imperfect than when they have been too perfectly crafted."
- La Rochefoucauld
Examples of flaws include a threading error, which will run lengthwise down the cloth. It will show up (to various severities) as a subtle stripe of colour imbalance, or a raised stripe of grouped threads, or some distinct imperfection that grabs my eye uncomfortably and makes me squirm to some degree.

Flaws running across the cloth are from my errors in the treadling sequence. They usually appear as a jump in the progression, some missed rows, and I find are often more visible than lengthwise flaws. 

The degree of visibility and acceptance of flaws ranges among viewers, however, with this weaver usually being the most critical of her work.  I get the "lighten up" comments from various fans of my work. That's fine, as it shows me I'm the most critical and others see the flaws as minor imperfections that prove the cloth was handwoven.

I'm not providing any photos in this blog. I've said enough!